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The School of Athens
The School of Athens
(Italian: Scuola di Atene) is one of the most famous frescoes by the Italian Renaissance
Italian Renaissance
artist Raphael. It was painted between 1509 and 1511 as a part of Raphael's commission to decorate the rooms now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace
Apostolic Palace
in the Vatican. The Stanza della Segnatura
Stanza della Segnatura
was the first of the rooms to be decorated, and The School of Athens, representing Philosophy, was probably the third painting to be finished there, after La Disputa (Theology) on the opposite wall, and the Parnassus (Literature).[1] The picture has long been seen as "Raphael's masterpiece and the perfect embodiment of the classical spirit of the Renaissance".[2]

Contents

1 Program, subject, figure identifications and interpretations

1.1 Figures 1.2 Central figures (14 and 15) 1.3 Setting

2 Drawings and cartoon 3 Copies 4 Theme 5 Gallery 6 Notes 7 References 8 External links

Program, subject, figure identifications and interpretations[edit]

Zoroaster, Ptolemy, Raphael
Raphael
as Apelles
Apelles
and Perugino
Perugino
or Timoteo Viti
Timoteo Viti
as Protogenes

The School of Athens
The School of Athens
is one of a group of four main frescoes on the walls of the Stanza (those on either side centrally interrupted by windows) that depict distinct branches of knowledge. Each theme is identified above by a separate tondo containing a majestic female figure seated in the clouds, with putti bearing the phrases: "Seek Knowledge of Causes," "Divine Inspiration," "Knowledge of Things Divine" (Disputa), "To Each What Is Due." Accordingly, the figures on the walls below exemplify Philosophy, Poetry (including Music), Theology, and Law.[3] The traditional title is not Raphael's. The subject of the "School" is actually "Philosophy," or at least ancient Greek philosophy, and its overhead tondo-label, "Causarum Cognitio", tells us what kind, as it appears to echo Aristotle's emphasis on wisdom as knowing why, hence knowing the causes, in Metaphysics Book I and Physics Book II. Indeed, Plato
Plato
and Aristotle
Aristotle
appear to be the central figures in the scene. However, all the philosophers depicted sought knowledge of first causes. Many lived before Plato
Plato
and Aristotle, and hardly a third were Athenians. The architecture contains Roman elements, but the general semi-circular setting having Plato
Plato
and Aristotle
Aristotle
at its centre might be alluding to Pythagoras' circumpunct. Commentators have suggested that nearly every great ancient Greek philosopher can be found in the painting, but determining which are depicted is difficult, since Raphael
Raphael
made no designations outside possible likenesses, and no contemporary documents explain the painting. Compounding the problem, Raphael
Raphael
had to invent a system of iconography to allude to various figures for whom there were no traditional visual types. For example, while the Socrates
Socrates
figure is immediately recognizable from Classical busts, the alleged Epicurus
Epicurus
is far removed from his standard type. Aside from the identities of the figures depicted, many aspects of the fresco have been variously interpreted, but few such interpretations are unanimously accepted among scholars. The popular idea that the rhetorical gestures of Plato
Plato
and Aristotle are kinds of pointing (to the heavens, and down to earth) is very likely. But Plato's Timaeus – which is the book Raphael
Raphael
places in his hand – was a sophisticated treatment of space, time, and change, including the Earth, which guided mathematical sciences for over a millennium. Aristotle, with his four-elements theory, held that all change on Earth was owing to motions of the heavens. In the painting Aristotle
Aristotle
carries his Ethics, which he denied could be reduced to a mathematical science. It is not certain how much the young Raphael knew of ancient philosophy, what guidance he might have had from people such as Bramante, or whether a detailed program was dictated by his sponsor, Pope Julius II. Nevertheless, the fresco has even recently been interpreted as an exhortation to philosophy and, in a deeper way, as a visual representation of the role of Love in elevating people toward upper knowledge, largely in consonance with contemporary theories of Marsilio Ficino and other neo-Platonic thinkers linked to Raphael.[4] Finally, according to Vasari, the scene includes Raphael
Raphael
himself, the Duke of Mantua, Zoroaster
Zoroaster
and some Evangelists.[5] However, as Heinrich Wölfflin
Heinrich Wölfflin
observed, "it is quite wrong to attempt interpretations of the School of Athens as an esoteric treatise ... The all-important thing was the artistic motive which expressed a physical or spiritual state, and the name of the person was a matter of indifference" in Raphael's time.[6] What is evident is Raphael's artistry in orchestrating a beautiful space, continuous with that of viewers in the Stanza, in which a great variety of human figures, each one expressing "mental states by physical actions," interact, in a "polyphony" unlike anything in earlier art, in the ongoing dialogue of Philosophy.[7] An interpretation of the fresco relating to hidden symmetries of the figures and the star constructed by Bramante
Bramante
was given by Guerino Mazzola and collaborators.[8] The main basis are two mirrored triangles on the drawing from Bramante
Bramante
(Euclid), which correspond to the feet positions of certain figures.[9] Figures[edit] The identities of some of the philosophers in the picture, such as Plato
Plato
and Aristotle, are certain. Beyond that, identifications of Raphael's figures have always been hypothetical. To complicate matters, beginning from Vasari's efforts, some have received multiple identifications, not only as ancients but also as figures contemporary with Raphael. Vasari mentions portraits of the young Federico II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, leaning over Bramante
Bramante
with his hands raised near the bottom right, and Raphael
Raphael
himself.[10] He was writing over 40 years after the painting, and never knew Raphael, but no doubt reflects what was believed in his time. Many other popular identifications of portraits are very dubious. Luitpold Dussler (de) counts among those who can be identified with some certainty: Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Pythagoras,[11] Euclid,[12] Ptolemy, Zoroaster, Raphael, Sodoma and Diogenes of Sinope. Other identifications he holds to be "more or less speculative".[13] A more comprehensive list of proposed identifications is given below:[14]

The parenthetical names are the contemporary characters from whom Raphael
Raphael
is thought to have drawn his likenesses.

1: Zeno of Citium[15] 2: Epicurus[15] 3: unknown[16] 4: Boethius[15] or Anaximander?[15] 5: Averroes[15] 6: Pythagoras[15][11] 7: Alcibiades[15] or Alexander the Great?[15] 8: Antisthenes[15] or Xenophon?[15] 9: unknown[16][17] or Fornarina
Fornarina
as a personification of Love[18] (Francesco Maria della Rovere?)[14] 10: Aeschines[15] 11: Parmenides[14] or Nicomachus?[14] 12: Socrates[15] 13: Heraclitus[14] (Michelangelo?)[14] 14: Plato[14] (Leonardo da Vinci?)[14] 15: Aristotle[14] (Giuliano da Sangallo?)[19] 16: Diogenes of Sinope[14] 17: Plotinus?[14] 18: Euclid[14] or Archimedes[14] (Bramante?)[14] 19: Strabo[14] or Zoroaster?[14] (Baldassare Castiglione?)[14] 20: Ptolemy[14] R: Apelles[14] (Raphael)[14] 21: Protogenes[14] (Il Sodoma[14] or Timoteo Viti[20]) Central figures (14 and 15)[edit]

An elder Plato
Plato
walks alongside Aristotle.

In the center of the fresco, at its architecture's central vanishing point, are the two undisputed main subjects: Plato
Plato
on the left and Aristotle, his student, on the right. Both figures hold modern (of the time), bound copies of their books in their left hands, while gesturing with their right. Plato
Plato
holds Timaeus, Aristotle
Aristotle
his Nicomachean Ethics. Plato
Plato
is depicted as old, grey, wise-looking, and bare-foot. By contrast Aristotle, slightly ahead of him, is in mature manhood, handsome, well-shod and dressed with gold, and the youth about them seem to look his way. In addition, these two central figures gesture along different dimensions: Plato
Plato
vertically, upward along the picture-plane, into the beautiful vault above; Aristotle
Aristotle
on the horizontal plane at right-angles to the picture-plane (hence in strong foreshortening), initiating a powerful flow of space toward viewers. It is popularly thought that their gestures indicate central aspects of their philosophies, for Plato, his Theory of Forms, and for Aristotle, his empiricist views, with an emphasis on concrete particulars. Many interpret the painting to show a divergence of the two philosophical schools. Plato
Plato
argues a sense of timelessness whilst Aristotle
Aristotle
looks into the physicality of life and the present realm. Setting[edit]

Detail of the architecture

The building is in the shape of a Greek cross, which some have suggested was intended to show a harmony between pagan philosophy and Christian theology[2] (see Christianity and Paganism
Paganism
and Christian philosophy). The architecture of the building was inspired by the work of Bramante, who, according to Vasari, helped Raphael
Raphael
with the architecture in the picture.[2] Some have suggested that the building itself was intended to be an advance view of St. Peter's Basilica.[2] There are two sculptures in the background. The one on the left is the god Apollo, god of light, archery and music, holding a lyre.[2] The sculpture on the right is Athena, goddess of wisdom, in her Roman guise as Minerva.[2] The main arch, above the characters, shows a meander (also known as a Greek fret or Greek key design), a design using continuous lines that repeat in a "series of rectangular bends" which originated on pottery of the Greek Geometric period and then become widely used in ancient Greek architectural friezes.[21] Drawings and cartoon[edit] A number of drawings made by Raphael
Raphael
as studies for the School of Athens are extant.[22] A study for the Diogenes is in the Städel
Städel
in Frankfurt[23] while a study for the group around Pythagoras, in the lower left of the painting, is preserved in the Albertina
Albertina
Museum in Vienna.[24] Several drawings, showing the two men talking while walking up the steps on the right and the Medusa
Medusa
on Athena's shield,[25] the statue of Athena
Athena
(Minerva) and three other statues,[26] a study for the combat-scene in the relief below Apollo[27] and "Euclid" teaching his pupils[28] are in the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology at Oxford University. The cartoon for the painting is in the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana
Pinacoteca Ambrosiana
in Milan.[29] Copies[edit] The Victoria and Albert Museum
Victoria and Albert Museum
has a rectangular version over 4 metres by 8 metres in size, painted on canvas, dated 1755 by Anton Raphael Mengs on display in the eastern Cast Court.[30] Modern reproductions of the fresco abound. For example, a full-size one can be seen in the auditorium of Old Cabell Hall at the University of Virginia. Produced in 1902 by George W. Breck to replace an older reproduction that was destroyed in a fire in 1895, it is four inches off scale from the original, because the Vatican would not allow identical reproductions of its art works.[31] Other reproductions include: by Neide, in Königsberg Cathedral, Kaliningrad,[32] in the University of North Carolina at Asheville's Highsmith University Student Union, and a recent one in the seminar room at Baylor University's Brooks College. A copy of Raphael's School of Athens was painted on the wall of the ceremonial stairwell that leads to the famous, main-floor reading room of the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève in Paris. The two figures at the left of Plotinus
Plotinus
were used as part of the cover art of both Use Your Illusion I
Use Your Illusion I
and II albums of Guns N' Roses. Theme[edit]

Plato's Academy mosaic
Plato's Academy mosaic
from Pompeii

A similar theme is known as Plato's Academy mosaic, and perhaps emerged in form of statues at the Serapeum of Alexandria
Serapeum of Alexandria
and Memphis Saqqara. Mimaut mentioned in the 19th century, nine statues at Serapeum of Alexandria
Serapeum of Alexandria
holding rolls. Eleven statues were found at Saqqara. A review of Les Statues Ptolémaïques du Sarapieion de Memphis noted they were probably build in the 3rd Century with limestone and stucco, some standing others sitting. Rowe and Rees 1956 suggested that both scenes in Serapeum of Alexandria
Serapeum of Alexandria
and Saqqara, share a similar theme, such as with Plato's Academy mosaic, with Saqqara
Saqqara
figures attributed to, Pindar
Pindar
(seated, identified per a graffiti), a inscription at the back of his chair reads Dionysi, Demetrios de Phalere, Orphic, aux oiseaux, Hesiode, Homer
Homer
seated in the center (head was recovered), Protagoras, Thales, Heraclite, Platon (per inscription), and Aristote.[33][34] However, there have been other suggestions, see for instance Mattusch 2008, a common identification seems to be Plato
Plato
as a central figure and Thales.[35] Gallery[edit]

Zeno of Citium

Epicurus

Averroes
Averroes
and Pythagoras

Pythagoras

Alcibiades
Alcibiades
or Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great
and Antisthenes
Antisthenes
or Xenophon

Parmenides

Aeschines
Aeschines
and Socrates

Michelangelo
Michelangelo
as Heraclitus

Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
as Plato

Aristotle

Diogenes

Notes[edit]

^ Jones and Penny, p. 74: "The execution of the School of Athens ... probably followed that of the Parnassus." ^ a b c d e f History of Art: The Western Tradition by Horst Woldemar Janson, Anthony F. Janson ^ See Giorgio Vasari, " Raphael
Raphael
of Urbino", in Lives of the Artists, vol. I: "In each of the four circles he made an allegorical figure to point the significance of the scene beneath, towards which it turns. For the first, where he had painted Philosophy, Astrology, Geometry and Poetry agreeing with Theology, is a woman representing Knowledge, seated in a chair supported on either side by a goddess Cybele, with the numerous breasts ascribed by the ancients to Diana Polymastes. Her garment is of four colours, representing the four elements, her head being the colour of fire, her bust that of air, her thighs that of earth, and her legs that of water." For further clarification, and introduction to more subtle interpretations, see E. H. Gombrich, "Raphael’s Stanza della Segnatura
Stanza della Segnatura
and the Nature of Its Symbolism", in Symbolic Images: Studies in the Art of the Renaissance (London: Phaidon, 1975). ^ M. Smolizza, ‘’Rafael y el Amor. La Escuela de Atenas como protréptico a la filosofia’’, in ‘Idea y Sentimiento. Itinerarios por el dibujo de Rafael a Cézanne’, Barcelona, 2007, pp. 29–77. [A review of the main interpretations proposed in the last two centuries.] ^ According to Vasari, " Raphael
Raphael
received a hearty welcome from Pope Julius, and in the chamber of the Segnatura he painted the theologians reconciling Philosophy
Philosophy
and Astrology with Theology, including portraits of all the wise men of the world in dispute." ^ Wōlfflin, p. 88. ^ Wōlfflin, pp. 94ff. ^ Guerino Mazzola et al. (1986). "Rasterbild - Bildraster". Springer-Verlag. ISBN 3-540-17267-X. CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link) CS1 maint: Explicit use of et al. (link) ^ This can be seen here. ^ Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Artists, v. I, sel. & transl. by George Bull (London: Penguin, 1965), p. 292. ^ a b Jürg Meyer zur Capellen, however, qualifies the certainty of this identification writing "eine Gruppe von Lesenden und Disputierenden, die um eine Sitzfigur, vielleicht Pythagoras, angeordnet ist." ("a group of people reading and debating, arranged around a seated figure, perhaps Pythagoras."). Jürg Meyer zur Capellen: Raffael (Munich: Beck 2010), p. 49. ^ Again, Meyer zur Capellen is more cautious: "Eine Gruppe von Schülern umgibt einen Lehrer ( Archimedes
Archimedes
oder Euklid?), der auf einer Tafel ein geometrisches Prinzip erläutert" Jürg Meyer zur Capellen: Raffael (Munich: Beck 2010), p. 50. ^ Luitpold Dussler: Raphael. A Critical Catalogue (London and New York: Phaidon 1971), p. 73. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v "The School of Athens, Who is Who?", Part 1 by Michael Lahanas. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "The School of Athens, Who is Who?" (Part 2) by Michael Lahanas. ^ a b Raphael
Raphael
has reused the motif of two women from his earlier work the Vision of a Knight (see Chefs d'oeuvre de l'art : grands peintres N° 31 : Raphaël (en deux parties), Hachette, 1966, p. 215). ^ The interpretation of this figure as Hypatia
Hypatia
seems to have originated from the Internet. Serious sources do not mention it at all. H. J. Mozans (= John Augustine Zahm
John Augustine Zahm
specifically regrets that Hypatia
Hypatia
does not appear in the painting in his book Women in Science (1913), p. 141. ^ Raphael's lover Fornarina
Fornarina
is portrayed in a famous painting in the National Gallery of Ancient Art in Rome. This identification has been introduced on 2002 by Matteo Smolizza during his cooperation with Lorenza Mochi Onori, former Director of the Museum, in the occasion of the Exhibit La Fornarina
Fornarina
di Raffaello, Milan, Fondazione Arte e Civiltà, March 14 – June 2, 2002. It was later investigated on the basis of 1) position of the portrait (specular to Raphael's one); 2) appearance compared with contemporary Raphael's drawings; 3) strictly contemporary texts by Raphael
Raphael
to the woman; 4) fresco's general meaning. Cf. Smolizza, pp. 68–74.[full citation needed] ^ Jill Burke (ed.), Rethinking the High Renaissance: The Culture of the Visual Arts in Early Sixteenth-century Rome, Ashgate Publishing, 2012, p. 170. ^ Timoteo Viti
Timoteo Viti
is another plausible candidate according to Esperienze letterarie, 24, Società editrice napoletana, 1999, p. 151. ^ Lyttleton, Margaret. "Meander." Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press, 2012. Accessed 5 August 2012. ^ Luitpold Dussler: Raphael. A Critical Catalogue (London and New York: Phaidon 1971), p. 74 ^ Zeichnungen – 16. Jahrhundert – Graphische Sammlung – Sammlung – Städel
Städel
Museum. Staedelmuseum.de (2010-11-18). Retrieved on 2011-06-13. ^ Raffaello Santi. mit seinen Schülern (Studie für die "Schule von Athen", Stanza della Segnatura, Vatikan) (trans.: Pythagoras
Pythagoras
and his students (Study for the 'School of Athens', Stanza della Signatura, the Vatican) (inventory number 4883)). Albertina
Albertina
Museum. Vienna, Austria, 2008. Retrieved on 2011-06-13. ^ Raphael
Raphael
(1482 - 1520).Two Men conversing on a Flight of Steps, and a Head shouting. Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford, 2011. Retrieved on 2011-06-13. ^ Raphael
Raphael
(1482 - 1520).Studies for a Figure of Minerva
Minerva
and Other Statues. Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford, 2011. Retrieved on 2011-06-13. ^ Raphael
Raphael
(1482 - 1520). Recto: Combat of nude men. Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford, 2011. Retrieved on 2011-06-13. ^ Raphael
Raphael
(1482-1520). Euclid
Euclid
instructing his Pupils. Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford, 2011. Retrieved on 2011-06-13. ^ School of Athens Cartoon ^ V&A Museum: Copy of Raphael's School of Athens in the Vatican. collections.vam.ac.uk (2009-08-25). Retrieved on 2016-03-24. ^ Information on Old Cabell Hall from University of Virginia ^ Northern Germany: As Far as the Bavarian and Austrian Frontiers, Baedeker, 1890, p. 247. ^ Alan Rowe and B. R. Rees (1956). "A Contribution To The Archaeology of The Western Desert: IV - The Great Serapeum Of Alexandria" (PDF). Manchester. CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link) ^ Ph. Lauer and Ch. Picard (1957). "Reviewed Work: Les Statues Ptolémaïques du Sarapieion de Memphis". Archaeological Institute of America. doi:10.2307/500375. CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link) ^ Katherine Joplin (2011). "Plato's Circle in the Mosaic of Pompeii". Electrum Magazine. 

References[edit]

Roger Jones and Nicholas Penny, Raphael, Yale, 1983, ISBN 0300030614. Heinrich Wölfflin, Classic Art: An Introduction to the Italian Renaissance (London: Phaidon, 2d edn. 1953).

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to The School of Athens.

The School of Athens
The School of Athens
on In Our Time at the BBC. The School of Athens
The School of Athens
at the Web Gallery of Art The School of Athens
The School of Athens
(interactive map) Cartoon of The School of Athens The School of Athens
The School of Athens
reproduction at UNC Asheville BBC
BBC
Radio 4 discussion about the significance of this picture in the programme In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg. 3 Cool Things You Might Not Know About Raphael’s School of Athens

v t e

Raphael

Early works

Resurrection of Christ Baronci Altarpiece St. Sebastian Oddi Altar Solly Madonna Mond Crucifixion Three Graces St Michael Portrait of a Man Connestabile Madonna Madonna and Child The Marriage of the Virgin Vision of a Knight St George Colonna Altarpiece Portrait of Perugino 1 Madonna and Child with the Book

Florentine period

Portrait of Elisabetta Gonzaga 2 Portrait of Emilia Pia da Montefeltro 2 Portrait of Guidobaldo da Montefeltro Self-portrait Madonna of the Grand Duke Ansidei Madonna Young Man with an Apple Christ Blessing Madonna Terranuova Madonna of the Goldfinch Madonna of the Meadow Esterhazy Madonna Small Cowper Madonna St George and the Dragon La donna gravida Portrait of Agnolo Doni Portrait of Maddalena Doni Madonna of the Pinks Young Woman with Unicorn Madonna with Beardless St Joseph Saint Catherine of Alexandria Canigiani Holy Family La belle jardinière Deposition of Christ Portrait of a Young Woman Tempi Madonna Madonna Colonna Madonna de Bogota

Roman period

Portrait of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese La disputa The School of Athens Madonna of Loreto Aldobrandini Madonna Madonna with the Blue Diadem Portrait of a Cardinal Alba Madonna Niccolini-Cowper Madonna The Parnassus Cardinal and Theological Virtues The Prophet Isaiah The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple Portrait of Pope Julius II Madonna of Foligno Madonna with the Fish Triumph of Galatea Sistine Madonna Madonna of the Candelabra Madonna della seggiola Madonna dell'Impannata Madonna della tenda The Fire in the Borgo The Meeting of Leo the Great and Attila Deliverance of Saint Peter The Mass at Bolsena Portrait of Bindo Altoviti The Sibyls Ecstasy of St. Cecilia Portrait of Balthasar Castiglione La donna velata Portrait of Tommaso Inghirami Palazzo Branconio dell'Aquila Portrait of Andrea Navagero and Agostino Beazzano Portrait of Cardinal Bibbiena Church of Sant'Eligio degli Orefici Creation of the World Transfiguration Portrait of Pope Leo X with Two Cardinals Christ Falling on the Way to Calvary The Holy Family of Francis I Ezekiel's Vision St. Michael Vanquishing Satan Madonna of the Rose Self-Portrait with a Friend La Fornarina Visitation Portrait of a Young Man Miraculous Draught of Fishes Christ's Charge to Peter Healing of the Lame Man Death of Ananias Stoning of St. Stephen Conversion of the Proconsul Sacrifice at Lystra St Paul in Prison St Paul Preaching in Athens Palazzo Jacopo da Brescia St Margaret and the Dragon

1 Also attributed to Lorenzo di Credi 2 Attributed

Authority control

.